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Grant Williams Listed as Potential NBA Lottery Pick

(Photo via Tennessee Athletics)

Tennessee junior forward Grant Williams announced on April 9th that he was declaring for the 2019 NBA Draft to test the waters, but he was also leaving the door open to potentially return for his senior season.

Declaring allows Williams to workout with NBA teams while also deciding if he would like to remain in the draft. The two-time SEC Player of the Year has until May 29th to make a decision.

“Who would have thought a chubby kid from Charlotte, North Carolina, would be doing this, playing the game of basketball,” Williams said during a press conference when he announced his decision. “I never could have imagined I’d be here today.

“I’ve prayed on it. Trusted my heart.”

Williams has been projected in the first round of a number of mock drafts. He’s also been in the Top-30 of a long list of draft boards. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor put out his mock draft on Thursday, and he had Williams slotted as the No. 12 overall player – the highest he’s been on a draft board so far. That also means that O’Conner views Williams as lottery pick for the draft. The first 14 picks of the draft are “lottery picks” in the NBA.

“Team-first player who runs the show from the post in college but will need to expand his game to the perimeter at the next level,” O’Connor said of Williams, comparing him to the Houston Rockets’ PJ Tucker and the former San Antonio Spur Boris Diaw.

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Here’s a look at the pluses of Grant Williams’ game according to O’Connor.

  • Crafty interior scorer who finishes with either hand and uses deceptive pump fakes to create space; loves to carve out space for his left-handed runner.
  • Excellent screener who can facilitate on the short roll or pop for 3s; can be a playmaking weapon on switches.
  • Tennessee runs its offense through him on the post; he loves absorbing contact, can finish over either shoulder, and throws accurate fastballs to cutters and shooters.
  • Improved spot-up 3-point shooter. He must extend his range, but his touch from the line and midrange is a positive indicator for his projected shooting ability.
  • A high-IQ defender who is always in the right position rotating as a help defender, and plays with strong fundamentals moving laterally.
  • Plays tough, physical individual defense. He closes out hard and shows active hands, plus he’s an instinctual rebounder who boxes out.
  • Hard-working, unselfish player. Lost weight and got better each season. He’ll take a charge or dive for a loose ball. Bonus: He does a good job of accentuating contact to draw fouls.

On the flip side, here’s the minuses of Williams’ game.

  • Reluctant to shoot 3s, passes up open looks, and dribbles into short midrange pull ups. Does he lack confidence or is he aware of his limitations?
  • Lacks verticality, so scoring inside against NBA length will require an adjustment.
  • He doesn’t project as a shot creator because of his average first step and lack of shake as a ball handler.
  • Tweeners don’t exist in today’s NBA, but athleticism still matters: He might not have the mobility to be a top-shelf defender on switches against guards and quicker wings.

Williams averaged 18.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists this season as he won SEC Player of the Year for the second year in a row. He was also a consensus First-Team All-American.

The 2019 NBA Draft will be held on June 20th. As stated above, Williams has until May 29th to withdraw his name and return for his senior season if he chooses.

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